The USD Muslim Students’ Society, the USD Center for Diversity & Community, and other sensible sponsors help us get to the bottom of one South Dakota cultural dysfunction with “Understanding Islamophobia and Anti-Refugee Bigotry,” a lunchtime program next Tuesday, November 28, in the Muenster University Center Pit Lounge.
If you can’t make Taneeza Islam’s Vermillion presentation next Tuesday, you can make sense of South Dakota’s little Trumpy tantrums against refugees by reading Adam Serwer’s, “The Nationalist Delusion,” a powerful, well-reasoned, well-evidenced essay that explains the most unpleasant truth about Trumpism (a point made frequently on this blog): the current President is a product not of some unique economic decline or empathy-worthy working-class angst but of rank racism deeply ingrained in American culture, now trying to erase the horror of having been governed by a black man for eight years:
Trump’s great political insight was that Obama’s time in office inflicted a profound psychological wound on many white Americans, one that he could remedy by adopting the false narrative that placed the first black president outside the bounds of American citizenship. He intuited that Obama’s presence in the White House decreased the value of what W. E. B. Du Bois described as the “psychological wage” of whiteness across all classes of white Americans, and that the path to their hearts lay in invoking a bygone past when this affront had not, and could not, take place.
That the legacy of the first black president could be erased by a birther, that the woman who could have been the first female president was foiled by a man who confessed to sexual assault on tape—these were not drawbacks to Trump’s candidacy, but central to understanding how he would wield power, and on whose behalf.
Americans act with the understanding that Trump’s nationalism promises to restore traditional boundaries of race, gender, and sexuality. The nature of that same nationalism is to deny its essence, the better to salve the conscience and spare the soul [Adam Serwer, “The Nationalist’s Delusion,” The Atlantic, 2017.11.20].
Lay Serwer’s article out on the dinner table and discuss it with your Trump-voting relatives before tearing into the turkey that is supposed to celebrate our refugee ancestors’ peaceful supping with helpful natives. Then bring whoever’s left standing to Taneeza Islam’s presentation at USD Tuesday to underscore the explanation of why a few white South Dakotans are so darned mad.